Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I HEART...Sausage and Kale Soup

Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!

Guess what? It's FALL, y'all! OK - I know that it will probably reach 95 degrees around here at least once or twice more, but it is officially fall. Yesterday's high was 77, thanks to an overcast sky. Hey...I'll take it however I can get it.

The kids are in taekwondo or dance three to four nights a week, and often, we find ourselves sitting down for supper about 8:30...sometimes later! So I have really been working on collecting some recipes that can either be made at the last minute, or can be prepared ahead and stand up to sitting in a crock pot or on the stove top.

When I think fall, I think soup. I like soup year round, but I love it during the cooler months. I can already think of several soup recipes that I plan to use for these later (and therefore lighter) meals. 

We discovered sausage and kale soup several years ago at Olive Garden, but they call it Zuppa Toscana. I found the copycat recipe years ago and my family loves it...even the kids! I have tweaked it a little over time, but it's basically the same as theirs. I made it last week, but tried something new - I made it in the crock pot! It worked well, and I'm probably going to continue to do it this way.

Sausage and Kale Soup

One pound Jimmy Dean regular ground sausage
Two medium russet potatoes, scrubbed with skin left on, and then diced
One large bunch or half a bag of kale, washed
Three cans low-sodium chicken broth
Red pepper flakes, to taste
One cup half and half

Dice potatoes and have them ready. This potato was a little weird shaped, so I took off a little more skin while trying to square it up for pretty dicing. But usually, I just scrub them and dice them.

In a large dutch oven, brown the sausage, breaking it up as you go. (However, I don't like it completely crumbled...I like a few bigger chunks.) 

Remove sausage but leave drippings in the bottom.

Add chicken broth and potatoes. bring to a boil and reduce. Allow the potatoes to cook about 10-15 minutes until softened, but not mushy.

A word about kale - when I started making this over 10 years ago, the only place to find kale was Fresh Market. Then I started seeing it at Publix, but only in the fall. Now, I can find it at the Tallassee Wal-Mart year round! Be sure to read your bag. Often, these bagged greens come pre-washed, but this time they didn't. I usually rinse them well no matter what.

As you rinse it, pull out any large, stemy pieces, like this one.

Add kale and red pepper flakes to taste. Cover and cook on low about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half and half. Serve with breadsticks.

I've always thought this was better the day after, when it had time for flavors to really marry together. So, this last time, after I browned the sausage, I put everything (except the half and half) into the crock pot and cooked it on low for four hours. It was perfect! The kale held some of it's texture and the potatoes were just right. Plus, it tasted richer because it had sat together for those hours while cooking.

One more thing - I have also made it with turkey sausage. My family didn't like it quite as much because they were used to having it with pork sausage. But if you start your fam on turkey, they'll never know! Tip - if you use turkey, add about one teaspoon of EVOO to the pan and get it screaming hot before adding the turkey. Try to get some color on the turkey and crisp it up a little. Texture makes all the difference!

Give this a try. My whole family eats this one! I'll bet yours likes it, too.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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